Understanding virtual private network (VPN) connections

Users can connect to the Windows Small Business Server network by using a virtual private network (VPN) to help provide a secure connection to the data stored on the network. A VPN is the extension of a private network that encompasses links across shared or public networks such as the Internet. With a VPN, you can send data between a computer and a mobile device across a shared or public network in a manner that emulates a point-to-point private link.

When a point-to-point link is emulated, data is encapsulated, or wrapped, with a header that provides routing information, which enables the data to traverse the shared or public network to reach its endpoint. When a private link is emulated, the data is encrypted for confidentiality. Packets that are intercepted on the shared or public network are indecipherable without the encryption keys. The link in which the private data is encapsulated and encrypted is a VPN connection.

Users with mobile devices can use VPN connections to establish a remote access connection to the computer running Microsoft® Windows® Small Business Server 2003 by using the infrastructure provided by a public network such as the Internet. From the user's perspective, the VPN is a point-to-point connection between the mobile device (the VPN client computer) and the computer running Windows Small Business Server (the VPN server). The exact infrastructure of the shared or public network is irrelevant because it appears logically as if the data is sent over a dedicated private link.

Using a VPN connection, mobile users can access the company's internal Web site (the intranet) and shared network folders securely without synchronizing.

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